Penn State hockey hosts the first-ever Big Ten Tournament games played in Hockey Valley this weekend. It’s a best-of-three series versus the Minnesota Golden Gophers starting on Friday night, continuing on Saturday and then Sunday, if necessary.
Each game will start at 7 p.m. and tickets are available for purchase at very reasonable prices.
The Big Ten has played its conference tournament in Detroit, Michigan or Saint Paul, Minnesota for the previous four seasons. Switching to an on-campus format has provided the opportunity for three schools to host multiple games during the opening weekend of the Big Ten Tournament. It is both a blessing and a challenge.
Until 10 p.m. last Saturday night it was still uncertain whether the Lions would host tournament games. It was far more likely that the team would have to play on the road. Coming into the weekend Guy Gadowsky’s squad needed to sweep then-No.9 Minnesota in a two-game series in order to accomplish the feat of hosting post-season games. Many fans were not able to make plans for this weekend on such short notice.
It is also Spring Break on campus at Penn State next week. A vast number of students will be leaving town for the break as the series begins on Friday. There are tickets available in the Roar Zone this weekend for just $18. The rest of the stadium seating runs $30 and standing-room only is $15. Premium ticketing for seating such as Club, On The Glass, and Loge will be $60.
Hotel prices are very affordable compared to what would be the case during a football weekend and the availability is plentiful as well. It would be a great chance to come to Hockey Valley and to enjoy the State College area; to sit in areas of the arena that are normally taken by season-ticket holders and to stay in hotels that can be 300-400% higher in price than they will be this weekend.
If it sounds to you like I am trying to sell you something, I assure you that I am. It will be very difficult to fill the arena and the team will benefit from each fan in the seats this weekend. Whether coming to the hockey games is in the cards for you or not, maybe you could keep the series this weekend in your thoughts, and mention it to someone who may not be aware of the opportunity available this weekend to support the team.
Some of the fans that will not be able to make it this weekend to the games will benefit if the team is able to win a game or two, at home, with an expected home-ice advantage. Penn State is on the cusp of gaining an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament and would play just a short drive from campus in Allentown, Pennsylvania in the first two rounds.
So those season-ticket holders that are unable to attend this weekend should try to do everything possible to help others attend the game, mostly just by spreading the word. The team needs help gaining as much of a home-ice advantage as possible.
And to those who do cheer the team on this weekend at the Pegula Ice Arena: be loud. Be very, very loud. Give everything you have for the team during the critical moments, when the skating seems to be uphill, to provide a boost to the troops.
Please, spread the word if you get the chance.
We at the Black Shoe Diaries do not profit in any way from ticket sales at the Pegula Ice Arena but we can also offer added incentive to encourage those around you to attend the game.
*For anyone that attends the game, we will waive the annual fee for reading the Black Shoe Diaries. All you have to do is send a picture of your game ticket to the provided address, with a $5 check for handling. As an extra added value, I, Chris Taylor, will throw in a free autograph on the back of each check that we receive.
*Offer not valid
We all hope that the stadium is full and rocking this weekend. We should remember that the first four Big Ten Tournaments were very sparsely attended. That is the major reason why the games have been moved on-campus. Penn State defeated Michigan in the opening round in Detroit last season in front 3,387 fans officially. In reality there were fewer than a couple of thousand people in the arena at the time of the game. That’s being generous. The next night Guy Gadowsky’s team qualified for its first at-large bid to the NCAA tournament in program history in front of 2,791 paying fans, officially. If you counted every bird, rodent, and living human being inside of Joe Louis Arena when Penn State beat Minnesota it may have been just a few shy of three grand, fine.
Attendance numbers aren’t always what they seem. There have been times at the Pegula Ice Arena when the ‘sold-out’ crowd did not fill half of the stadium. The tickets were sold but the back-sides were not in the seats. There are many reasons that this happens but the point is that it would not be the first time that Penn State has played at home, with a home-ice advantage, with the stadium less than full.
The team has already won an advantage by not having to leave its home. Minnesota had just a few days back in their own beds before making the trip back to where they were swept just days ago. Of the thousand or so humans inside of Joe Louis Arena that witnessed the Penn State win versus Michigan in the first round last year, probably 200 were cheering for Penn State.
The home ice advantage will be significant, especially compared to the fan support that the Lions have gotten in past Big Ten Tournaments. We should try to encourage as many filled seats as possible but still remember that the support will be much greater for the team than it has ever been during post-season play.
Success in terms of attendance should not be judged by how many fans are in the seats but by how much the home crowd is able to aid the team.